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University of Colorado-Boulder campus (Wikimedia Commons / Madhava 1947) University of Colorado-Boulder campus (Wikimedia Commons / Madhava 1947)  

Colorado University Pays Big For Alleged Retaliation Against Sex-Assault Victim

Greg Campbell
Contributor

A tenured professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder is being fired after a student claimed that he retaliated against her for reporting that she was sexually assaulted by another student.

The victim claims that associate philosophy professor David Barnett investigated the assault allegation and concluded that the victim was “sexually promiscuous.” His report also insinuated that the victim may have made a false allegation to cover up that she was cheating on her boyfriend, according to the Daily Camera.

CU has already paid the victim in the case $825,000 to settle her allegation that Barnett’s 38-page report was in retaliation for her making the allegation in the first place.

CU’s philosophy department has been under scrutiny since the American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women conducted a site visit last year. A report by the group in January slammed the department for cultivating a climate of sexual harassment. (RELATED: CU-Boulder Slammed For Sexual Harassment In Its Philosophy Department)

Barnett’s lawyer told the Camera that the professor is being made an example of so that university administrators can be seen to cracking down in response to the report.

“Every male member of the CU philosophy department already has had his reputation damaged as a result of the administration’s selective release of information,” attorney Brian Moore is quoted as saying. “Now, even though professor Barnett is not accused of harassing anyone, the administration is attempting to make him the scapegoat.”

Moore also said Barnett didn’t investigate the alleged sexual assault, but rather how the university handled the case. Barnett was concerned that the university “intentionally and systematically manipulated the evidence in order to support a finding of guilt” against the alleged assailant, Moore said.

The Camera didn’t name the student or the person accused of assaulting her. But the paper described her allegation that a doctoral student assaulted her during an off-campus party in 2012. The university’s philosophy department later hired the doctoral student as an instructor.

Although the case was referred to campus police and the doctoral student was not arrested, he was found to have violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, according to documents reviewed by the Camera. He was suspended from his position during the investigation and his contract was not renewed.

Barnett’s report about the victim’s sexual history and his opinion that she falsified the allegation was distributed to top university officials, according to the victim’s notice of intent to sue the university, filed with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in early July.

In turn, the university filed a notice of intent to fire Barnett, who said through his lawyer that he will fight the termination. If he’s fired, the Camera reported, he will be only the fourth tenured professor to be sacked in the university’s 138-year history.

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